Real Estate Agents Taking Their Safety Seriously

Angie Flowers admits she’s had some “close calls” while working as a real estate agent with Coldwell Banker Real Estate Services’ South Hills office.

That’s why she was among 20 Realtors who attended three self-defense classes at Iron City Elite Strength & Conditioning in Castle Shannon last week.

“It’s overdue. I’ve had some ‘interesting’ experiences at open houses,” said Flowers, of Scott. “I’m always meeting strangers in sometimes vacant houses, so I think it’s something that I should learn.”

David Holzer, 47, of Scott, who formed the Pittsburgh Combat Club in 2002 to teach self-defense workshops, said the idea to cater to real estate agents came from a friend who is a former Realtor.

“He told me years ago, ‘David, if you ever start doing this full-time you should check out Realtors and helping Realtors out.’ I never thought about that,” Holzer said.

A National Association of Realtors survey last year reported that 40 percent of respondents feared for their safety or the safety of their personal information. One-third carried a weapon for self-defense.

“The National Association of Realtors is committed to our members’ personal safety and encourage them to educate themselves about potential threats they face in this profession and how to navigate them safely,” said association spokeswoman Jane Dollinger.

Holzer has been interviewing real estate agents since last July to learn about their experiences. Some recounted “spooky” situations of people following and watching them.

“It’s out there. The (Realtors) I interviewed who never said they were attacked, they all knew somebody who had been,” he said.

Holzer, who has been training in the martial arts for the past 31 years, firmly believes there is only one way to react when you’re under attack: Fight back. That’s why he teaches his students to gouge eyes, break bones and otherwise cause physical injury.

It’s not for the squeamish, but the actions and attitude are necessary, he says, to save your life.

“If someone is really intent to hurt you, how do you stop them? You injure them,” said Holzer, who has a black belt in taekwondo. “We want to cause a structural deficiency in the human system. That’s going for the eyes, taking out the throat, breaking an ankle.”

Training with the Pittsburgh Combat Club includes year-round outside classes in Scott, quarterly workshops at the Carnegie municipal building and private sessions.

Holzer said his teaching method includes understanding the weaknesses of the human body.

“Understanding that when someone attacks you, they’re using violence as an intimidating tool,” he said. “Well, you can use violence, the same thing, back to them to flip the tables and make the aggressor now the defender.”

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